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Last Night, BJP Committed Political Harakiri in Kashmir. Daanish Bin Nabi Writing From Kashmir Explains Why

‘Fax-gate’ is only one debacle that will haunt the saffron party whose politics has wreaked havoc in the state.

A political storm which erupted in state of Jammu and Kashmir last evening is far from over, with allegations and counter-allegations between Srinagar and New Delhi. The bitterness between the two (Srinagar-New Delhi) dates back to early 1950s.

Since the State of Jammu and Kashmir controversially acceded to the union of India, soon after partition, mainstream parties and leaders have, from time–to–time, tried to portray that they are more Indians than Kashmiris. However, it is the New Delhi which has always played a spoil-sport as far as Kashmir and its leaders are concerned. Human rights defender Khurram Parvez said, “The pro-India parties in Kashmir gave their lives & dignity for India, yet BJP calls them pro-Pakistan. Is there anyone since 1947 till now who was trusted by India in Kashmir? It won’t surprise us, if mercenaries will continue to bat for India after being humiliated time & again.”

What played out in the state in last 24 hours was a repeat of the successive tussle between Srinagar and Delhi. Commenting on the political storm, Waheed-ur-Rehman Para of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said, “Over the years, we have been hearing that democracy is only solution to the Issue and issues of Kashmir but now the latest development goes like this: Democracy is not only delayed but denied to Kashmir.”

Sources in both mainstreams parties — National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — confirmed to NewsCentral24x7 that talks between the two were going–on since last one month. “Our workers kept telling us to stop the coming of the third front in the state which were dubious in character. So we thought it was better to forge an alliance with our rivals that is NC,” sources in PDP said.

Omar Abdullah
Omar Abdullah

Omar Abdullah also confirmed this. “They (PDP) offered chief ministerialship to my father (Farooq Abdullah) first and then to me. However, we both refused but agreed with them to form the government to protect the special status of the state,” he told a packed room of journalists in Srinagar.

After withdrawing support from PDP in June this year, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had restored to horse-trading in the state. Sources in the PDP confirmed to News Central24x7 that the BJP had approached MLAs of all the parties to support the Chairman Peoples Conference’s Sajad Gani Lone, for the chief ministerial position in the state. It all started with the municipal elections, when the BJP, with help of the Lone, almost swept the state as the two regional parties boycotted the polls.

The tipping point for both NC and PDP came when the founding member of PDP, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, openly revolted and came out in open support of Lone, going as far as calling Lone his “son”.

When the news of the grand alliance between NC, PDP and Congress broke-out on Wednesday night, Valleyites sighed with heavy relief, not because they had found a sudden love for New Delhi but because they no longer had to face the BJP and its proxies in the state.

Former Jammu and Kahmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti
PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, after failing to reach out to the Governor SP Malik over phone, tried to fax the letter to stake claim for government formation. She wrote in a tweet, “Have been trying to send this letter to Rajbhavan. Strangely the fax is not received. Tried to contact HE Governor on phone. Not available. Hope you see it.” Mehbooba claimed to have 29 seats of PDP, 15 of NC and 12 of Congress— a total to 56 seats in the assembly.

Sajad Lone followed suit and said, “We have sent a letter to His Excellency the Governor staking our claim to form the government. Fax not working. We have whatsapped it to the PA to his excellency.” He claimed that he had support of BJP and 18 other MLAs.

However, within minutes of sending the letters to the Governor SP Malik, the latter dissolved the legislative assembly without even holding a floor test. Since then, the Governor’s fax machine has become the butt of jokes.

Umar Ganie, a photojournalist working with government run PTI news agency, wrote on twitter, “Grand Alliance: Hamare pass NC hai, PDP hai, Congress hai , tumhare pass kya hai? BJP: Hamare pass kharaab Fax machine hai. (Grand Alliance: We have NC, PDP and Cogress, what do you have? BJP: We have a broken fax machine)” The tweet was retweeted near about 600 times and has 2.3k likes. It was also retweeted by the former chief minister Omar Abdullah.

Commenting on the fax machine controversy, senior journalist Mufti Islah said that, “Fax-gate will continue to haunt some factions. It will be a tag that they will have to live with.”

Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik (Photo: Twitter/@JmuKmrPolice)

On his part, the Governor SP Malik gave a bizarre justification for last night’s events. Malik said, “My office was shut coz of Eid so I got no communication from Mehbooba Mufti She could have approached me any other day. On a holiday none was sitting next to fax machine.”

Growing alienation

Supreme Court’ ruling in Karnataka’s floor test case, S.R. Bommai v Union of India, was, “If a political party, with the support of other political party or other MLAs, stakes claim to form a government and satisfies the governor about its majority to form a stable government, the governor cannot refuse formation of government and override the majority claim because of his subjective assessment.”

Governor SP Malik, playing to tunes of his bosses in New Delhi, did not even allow a floor test. Omar Abdullah said that legally, NC cannot approach the Supreme Court as it is the PDP who had approached the governor and staked claim for government formation.

A senior leader in PDP told News Central24x7, “As of now, we are not thinking of approaching the Supreme Court. We will decide within party whether we should approach the apex court or not.”

Many political pundits in Kashmir see yesterday’s political controversy as a repeat of the 1987 assembly elections. Political commentator Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain told News Central24x7, “These events will further alienate the already alienated people of Kashmir.”  

The 1987 assembly elections are remembered in the state as being heavily rigged by New Delhi. The rigging sent the state into a political abyss. Many militant commanders and Hurriyat leaders who are up in arms against New Delhi were part of the election in 1987.

If stealing of the people’s mandate again set the state on the same path again, is something that only time will tell. But if it does, New Delhi will find it extremely difficult to control. 

BJP’s disastrous politics wreaked havoc in the state

Senior journalist and political commentator summed up the Kashmir situation aptly by saying, “Modi Govt has been set on a disastrous course in Kashmir for some time. It has reversed two decades of gains, including the investment Vajpayee made in holding fair elections. It has taken J-K back to bad old times. A terrible national disaster.”

After BJP won 25 seats from Jammu province in 2014 state assembly election, their politics have wreaked havoc across the state. Today, the two divisions — Srinagar and Jammu — are more alienated than they were before 2014.

It was also for the first in the history of the state that two main regional parties boycotted an election in the state. The boycott only happened after the BJP threatened to abrogate the state’s special status.  

The security situation in Kashmir has also worsened since 2014 as there is an increasing trend of locals joining the militant ranks. Prime Minister’s developmental agenda has also been a non-starter in the state.

The way ahead would be that a grand-alliance between NC, PDP and Congress keeps BJP’s Hindutva and divisive politics out of the state.

The question that remains unanswered is that had the PDP refused to form an alliance with the BJP in 2014, would BJP have dissolved the assembly at that point?

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